This year the Director and Advisors here at the Cambridge Campus Upward Bound Program had the pleasure of being a part of the planning committee for the Southern Tier TRIO Day and we were so excited for our students to be able to take part in a fun-filled day of learning, exploring and networking with over 500 other TRIO students from around the southern part of the state. As you may know, TRIO consists of 7 different pre-college and college-access programs, working with students as young as 6th grade and spanning all the way into graduate school. There were TRIO students from all different programs who were in different parts of their journey and it was so great to see the interactions that took place throughout the day.
So what is TRIO Day? TRIO Day is an annual event hosted by different TRIO programs on different college campuses each year as an opportunity for students to come together, meet fellow TRIO students who share common goals and enjoy what it means to be a member of a TRIO Program. Students are given the opportunity to feel what it is like to attend a professional-feeling conference and practice skills they will need for life including networking, advocacy and education beyond the classroom.
The theme of this year’s Southern TRIO Day was “Power of the Past, Force of the Future” and this is really fitting as we have just celebrated the 50th Anniversary of TRIO Upward Bound. As a planning committee we wanted to recognize and show appreciation to all the hard work that was done in the last 50 years to open the doors for equal access to education and start the conversation about what successes the future holds in regards to this same fight. It is important to remember that for a program like TRIO we need to always keep our name relevant and never let people forget the success that we have had in helping students who come from under-served populations make a promising future for themselves.
This year’s event was held on the beautiful campus of North Hennepin Community College located in Brooklyn Park and students had the opportunity to take part in a wide variety of activities throughout the day. Students arrived bright and early with their TRIO Directors and Advisors to enjoy a delicious breakfast and spend some time browsing the book swap and the college fair. This year there was a new element added to TRIO Day and it was a huge hit with all the students. One of the member of the planning committee had the great idea of hosting a book swap. The idea of a book swap is that students could bring one or more books that they had already enjoyed and swap them out for new books to take home. The company Half Price Books made a generous donation to our event and set us up with hundreds of books for kids and young adults. Students really enjoyed fining new reads and getting to go home with a few new books for themselves and their siblings. Another highlight of the day was the college fair- students had the opportunity to speak with representatives from 19 different colleges around the region and learn about the new and exciting things happening on their campuses. In order to get the most out of the college fair each student was given a passport to fill out that contained information about the different colleges. This was a great tool for students as they made their way through the busy fair and learned about each school. Here are a few photos from the morning:
To start the day out we all joined together in the gymnasium on the North Hennepin Campus and listened to a phenomenal motivational teacher named Jermaine Davis. Jermaine’s Keynote was titled: Breaking the Cycle: The Real Deal on Achieving Your Dreams and Goals. Jermaine captivated the TRIO students and staff as he spoke of finding your personal strengths and talents as a secret to individual success. Jermaine is an upbeat, powerful and passionate man who speaks from his heart and made a positive impact on our students.
After the keynote address students headed to the different presentations they chose to attend. All the breakout sessions were planned using feedback we received from students regarding what they wanted to learn more about. Here is a list of the topics that students got to choose from:
- College Representative Panel
- College Life: What Does ‘College’ Look Like?
- How to Become Your Own Boss in Your 20’s
- Study a-What? Information about Study Abroad
- Budget for Life: Budgeting for the Life you Want
- Networking 101
- Body Calm Yoga
- Positive Illusions: The Numbers on Mental Health, Relationships and the Awesomeness Factor
- Gaming the System: Discover the World of Video Game Studies
- A Day in the Life of a Case Manager: Beginning of Social Work
- Tapping Into Your Potential
- Diversity, Equity and College Success
- Financial Aid 101
- What is a Nurse and How Do I Know if I Want to Be One?
- Product Design with the Consumer in Mind: an Exploration in Market Research
- Dollars for Scholarship
- Aikido: Traditional Japanese Martial Art
- From 14th & Windlake to St. Cloud State University
- Money in Your Pocket: Getting and Keeping a Good Job
- College? Really?
- How to Succeed in College: Dos and DONTS
- Transferring, It Can Be Easy
- 5 Secrets of Successful Communicators
- Making the Admissions Decision
- College Sports
- Living Life as a Possibility
- Google-SMASH Exploratory Adventure
- Meet Carlos: From Associate in Arts to a Bachelor of Science
- Sexual Decision Making: It’s Your Choice!
In between the morning and afternoon breakout sessions there was time for students to enjoy a delicious lunch, continue exploring the college fair and check out the book swap again to see what treasures they could find. Students were working hard all throughout the day to earn raffle tickets for the prize drawing that would happen at the end of the day. There were several ways students could earn tickets: bringing books to the book swap, filling out their college fair passport, turning in evaluations of the different sessions they attended and completing postcards that would be sent to their representatives advocating on behalf of TRIO. Students were eager for the chance to earn the tickets and make their way over to the prize boxes to drop their tickets in.
To finish off the day we had all the TRIO students come together in the gymnasium again for the last couple of events. One thing the planning committee was very excited for was the TRIO Alumni panel that was planned for the end of the day. This panel consisted of individual’s who’s lives had been impacted by TRIO in some way. These students were members of many of the different TRIO Programs including Student Support Services, Upward Bound, McNair Scholars and Educational Talent Search and each of them had the opportunity to share the positive experiences that TRIO provided to them. The exciting part about the Alumni panel was that we encouraged student participation by having all students use their cell phones to send in questions that they wanted the panel to answer. Students did a great job of coming up with interesting and insightful questions for our panelists. Students wanted to know about choosing and changing majors, TRIO memories, impacts college has made in their lives and much more.
Next we took a few minutes to watch a couple of videos that were sent to us from our U.S Senators for Minnesota, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar. It was an honor that they took time to address our students and praise them for all the hard work they are putting in to their education and their future. Both Senator Franken and Klobuchar are supporters of TRIO programs and we are so grateful that they understand the positive impact that TRIO has on thousands of students across Minnesota and across the nation.
We were getting to the end of the day right before students boarded the buses and made their way back to their respective schools but there were just a couple things left to accomplish. One of these things was the much-anticipated raffle drawing. Students had the ability to drop their hard-earned raffle tickets into 9 different boxes throughout the day and it was finally time for them to see if they would be one of the lucky ones chosen for a prize. In the 9 different categories that students had to choose from there were over 100 raffle winners. Prizes included awesome college gear from different schools around the state, gift cards to various restaurants, tickets to sporting events, signed sports memorabilia including a basketball signed by the entire Minnesota Lynx team, some really great technology items including headphones, tablets and the coveted prize of the day: a Chromebook! Raffle numbers were being frantically called out and students were celebrating their win as they made their way from the bleachers to claim their prizes. It was so great to see the look of excitement and happiness on students’ faces as they brought their prizes back to their seats and celebrated with their friends.
Our very final event to wrap up a spectacular TRIO day was a TRIO cheer. Students in TRIO understand that their Advisors and Directors like to celebrate EVERYTHING: getting an A on a test, earning a local scholarship, finding out you were accepted into your #1 school, not spilling your lunch on yourself. Really, anything worth celebrating is fair game for a cheer or a high-five from a TRIO staff member. Even though students moan and groan about it, we know they secretly enjoy our non-stop enthusiasm. We got all the students on their feet and had half of the room chanting “TRIO” while the other half was yelling “WORKS!!” Eventually all students were on their feet chanting the TRIO WORKS!! Mantra and ending the day in a roar of student enthusiasm!
As the buses left the parking lot and the halls began to quiet down there was a sense of great accomplishment. Not only the feeling of accomplishment for a wonderful TRIO Day, but the sense that these students who took part in TRIO Day will accomplish wonderful things in their lifetimes and will someday be able to say “I was impacted by TRIO and look at all the amazing things I have done.”
A special thank you to all the members of the planning committee who works so diligently to make TRIO day a success. Thank you to Directors and Advisors who brought their students to TRIO Day and thank you to all the TRIO participants who are the reason for such a great event to happen!